About three months into our roles as editors-in-chief of in-Training, we had created a system. Mondays, I’d come home from the hospital — usually with some ineffective Anki studying, or commiseration with my roommates, or hastily composing a Chopped-style dinner with leftovers — log into our WordPress backend, and start making my way through the latest batch of submissions. The part of the position which involved responding to emails in real time, coordinating with our social media team, adjusting our publication schedule went to my co-editor, who was immersed in a research year. In contrast, I took on the role as an incoming fourth year, working through USMLE exams, clerkships, and residency applications, and coming up for air a few times a week. My Monday evening ritual had become copyediting.
It can be tedious work. The Associated Press Style Guide is maddeningly arbitrary: Hawai’i and Utah are never abbreviated, Seattle does not need to be followed by a state, Tacoma should always be followed by its state, Feb. may be abbreviated but never March, Oxford commas are for degenerates. Not everything was fun to read, sometimes because the writer was clearly hypercompetitive or narcissistic, but most often because they were a tired student flying through the emotional and intellectual milestones of medical school without a moment to reflect deeply.
And yet, it never really got old. In retrospect, I miss those evenings where I came home to what amounted to a weekly subscription of never-before-heard demo tapes. Medical school is, for most of us now in medicine, when we are the most wide-eyed, the least callous, the closest to remembering what it is like to look inside hungrily. These were stories unlike any other, and in putting them together, in-Training created a community like no other. I remember vividly reading and rereading the essay of a woman who, after participating in her first autopsy, began searching obsessively for closure and found the patient’s Facebook page, watched his “ice bucket challenge” video. In the same night, I might have read a Ugandan medical student’s thoughts on universal health care, a poem about caring for children after a mass shooting, or an accountant-turned-physician’s financial musings.
The point of in-Training is not to make sense of medical school, or to entertain, or give advice, although there are flashes of all of those along the way. It is to recognize that the transformation into medicine is at once shared and infinitely faceted, that our own character arcs can be as rich or as insipid as those that we present, that together we are symphonic.